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  • Writer's pictureSteve Crowther

Sounds Lyrical – Faye Robinson (soprano) and Marianna Cortesi (piano)

Updated: May 31

This penultimate Late Music concert (Saturday 1 June @ 1.00pm) celebrates the marriage of two artistic forms: four local composers setting verses of four local poets.

James Else: Retratos III (poem by Alan Gillott)

Retratos III is a setting of a poem by Alan Gillott, itself based on a self-portrait by Adriana Varejão consisting of two paintings, with the second a perspective reflection of the first with a cut from the forehead into the sky wealing congealed blood.  This is the 3rd poem I’ve set in this series of works and definitely the hardest to approach, with an amazing range of textures within the words, from evocative and melancholy to harsh and direct.  My final approach split the poem into 3 sections, drawing upon a different musical vocabulary for the middle section, where I contrast the most direct language within an almost peaceful chorale.

George Hetherton: Butterfly House (poem by Ian Parks)

The poem Butterfly House by Ian Parks invites us to reflect on the ephemeral nature of beauty, missed opportunity, and the relentless passage of time, while emphasizing the importance of treasuring the moments within our grasp.


I have aimed to capture the essence of this, incorporating interplays of light and colour, recognizing that beauty may only be fully appreciated when juxtaposed against darkness. Given this, the piece was composed with varying modality to evoke a range of emotions and sensations.


The use of motivic structures within the composition serves to evoke the physicality of the environment, employing elements such as rhythmic beating and shimmering textures in the piano. Additionally, the vocal passages undergo shifts to convey both fragility and majesty, thereby creating a striking contrast and a sense of transformative progression.


Ewan East: Emergency  (poem by Robert Powell)

I have been fortunate enough to set two of Robert Powell's text's for Late Music York concerts, with the previous being The Women Are Knitting A Bridge. I find his writing emotive and somehow perfectly capture a time and space from anyone's perspective. Emergency, to me, is as a text based on the Covid lockdowns, similarly descriptive to The Women Are Knitting A Bridge and the reflections of the Irish border. I aimed to capture multiple perspectives in this setting, exploring the difference in phrases that could be positive or negative.

 Composing the piece chronologically the melody that came out of this final phrase is one that gently hums off into the distance, casting an image of the girl on stilts singing to the sky. A positive, happy thought to finish the piece on, moving away from the mixing of positivity and negativity that many of us may have experienced not so long ago.

Thomas J Crawley: When you were seven (poem by Ann Heath)

 When writing this piece, I wanted to capture the nostalgia and imagery of the poem. I had the idea of someone humming a tune they couldn't remember from their childhood. The song starts and ends with the singer humming the title of the poem “When you were seven.”

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